Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Curse of The New

Is it my age or is it the fact that for the past 35 years I have worked in an industry in which cynicism it the norm. I don't know. I am keenly aware that as we grow older — as we all grow older — we become less and less amenable to change of any kind and rather dislike any alteration in the fabric of life which makes it less like what we have been accustomed to for the past 30/40 years.
Take TV. Like all youngsters, I watched a lot of TV. But in those days in Britain we had just two channels to choose from, BBC and ITV (of which BBC was regarded as the upmarket, responsible channel and ITV — known as 'commercial television — was regarded as downmarket and slightly irresponsible. Then, in 1964, along came BBC2 (a day late, as it happens, but that is another story). BBC2 was going to be Auntie's cultural flagship, with loads of 'serious' plays, classical music and intellectual discussion. It fulfilled this role admirably for many years and until 1982 when Channel 4 was launched we only had three channels.
The point I am making is that less TV was available but I watched far more, although I shall not make the usual mistake of claiming that every last minute broadcast was head and shoulders about what is on offer today. It wasn't. We had dross in those days, too, although I'm sure someone somewhere is fully prepared to argue that it was dross of a far higher quality than we are served up with today. Now there seem to be thousands and thousands of TV channels and I watch next to nothing. I have no interest in all the so-called 'reality' shows, or in the talent shows, and some of the programme ideas strike as downright loopy: coming up next week is a series detailing what happens when the lower deck staff start running their supermarket. Can't wait, I really can't. Or ten fat people decide to lose weight. and we are invited to join them 'on their journey' the share the success and failure, the laughter and the tears. I could sit here and try to come up with the most ridiculous idea imaginable, only to discover it was screened last Thursday on some channel or other to almost universal acclaim.
The fault, I'm sure, us most certainly mine.
Then there is the vacuous nonsense everyone keeps coming out with. Was there always such double-speak. Probably, buy I am only beginning to notice it now because I have entered the grumpy years. (And incidentally, one TV show which was a runaway success of these past few years was called 'Grumpy Old Men' and, yes, consisted of loads of elderly celebs sounding off about what ticked them off.)
One of my favourite pieces of spoken garbage, of which a lot is official, was the Labour Government's claim a few years ago that one of its targets in education was to ensure that 'every pupil, irrespective of background, is above average in its achievements'. If that doesn't immediately strike you as being complete bollocks, think about it. Hint: consider what the notion of 'average' is.
Every new venture is proudly announced as being 'innovative', 'exciting', 'groundbreaking' and 'a bold departure' which 'redefines' whatever activity it is being launched as. All I can see is that many people have been paid very good money simply to 'redefine' bollocks.
You get the drift. Yet who is at fault here? Am I being to much of a curmudgeonly stick in the mud to join in the spirit? I like to think not, but then I would, wouldn't I?
I once saw a small ball being marketed as being especially useful as a toy because it 'help to encourage and develop eye-hand co-ordination'. Well, goodness me. What vast strides forward are being made in toy technology. Oh, and toys must these days be 'educational'. That youngsters might actually simply enjoy them for themselves is irrelevant. I feel I ought to go an lie down for an hour or two.

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